What the 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer means for IC pros

The Edelman Trust Barometer was published this week and as ever, it’s a valuable read for internal communicators.

Now in its 24th year, it provides insights on trust levels and perceived credibility towards Governments, Leadership teams and other authorities with influence.

It’s a big read (69 pages), so we’ve taken a look and extracted what the insights mean for us as internal communicators.  The report highlights how colleagues feel towards both internal and external authorities. Using the data from the report, we can adjust our internal comms strategies to focus more on specific trust gaps.

What the 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer means for IC pros by Communication Consultant Dan Holden

All Things IC Comms Consultant Dan Holden shares his early reflections from the 2024 report.

Each year, the report reinforces the need for continued open and honest communication, helping to build and maintain trust between colleagues and Leadership teams. We know from audits and listening exercises that colleagues expect clear and consistent messaging from their leaders. We can use this to provide colleagues with authentic and credible messaging.

A lens I hadn’t always considered when reading the Edelman Trust Barometer in previous years is how colleagues view the social responsibility of organisations. It made me reflect on the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Horizon conference in 2023, and a presentation by Jay Richards, Co-founder of Imagen Insights, on what’s important for the upcoming Gen Alpha. With multiple generations in the workplace, understanding what’s important to them is key for us as communicators.

My key takeaways

Source of trust

This year saw a significant change in the UK, falling 4% in trusting of NGOs, businesses, government and the media. This signals not only a concern about the lack of trust in society but that, as communicators, we’ll need to work harder with leaders in organisations to continue building trust inside companies.

Screenshot from the Edelman Trust Barometer 2024 showing charts on the Trust Index

Worryingly, 61% of respondents (2% increase on 2023) feel that “Business leaders are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations”. I find it worrying that in places of work, respondents don’t feel able to trust leaders to be open and honest.

During our audits and listening sessions, we explore the topic of trust with employees inside organisation. I encourage you to do the same. Speak with your colleague networks or set up informal sessions to regularly listen to the thoughts and views of colleagues from different areas of the business.

Not leaving people behind

Change is something we all experience, both inside and outside of work. It’s interesting to see the increase in respondents reporting that technology and society are leaving them behind. Pausing for a moment to think about what’s happening in the world of internal communication, I’ve seen many conversations about communicators feeling worried from the increasing talk of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The pressures faced in-house means there isn’t always time to spend researching and trialling new technology and I can see how we as a profession might fall into these statistics.

Candid Comms podcast. An introduction to AI for internal communicators

What can we do to help ourselves? Setting aside small chunks of time, 30 minutes on a Friday afternoon or spending a Wednesday lunchtime testing out (in a safe, secure and ethical way) technology such as Chat GPT can be more manageable. Leading by example and sharing what we learn can help others, whether it’s fellow communicators or colleagues in your organisation. Lunch and learn style events can be another way of informally bringing people together and helping them explore potential changes.

Screenshot from the Edelman Trust Barometer 2024 showing charts on the Trust Index

Importance of voice

I was pleased to see the importance of needing the opportunity for concerns to be heard from colleagues. 82% of respondents from organisations said that hearing concerns and being able to ask questions was important to create trust. For us as internal communicators, this is where our two-way channels can work hard, creating opportunities for colleagues and leaders to communicate with each other.

Knowing the importance of colleagues being heard, I encourage you to look at your channels matrix and see if a) you have channels for them to share concerns and hear back from the organisation and b) you identify opportunities to close any gaps. Employee networks, line manager groups or ‘walking the floor’ can be good ways to check.

Learn more on How to improve your IC channels

Screenshot from the Edelman Trust Barometer 2024 showing charts on the Trust Index

It’s not all doom and gloom

It can be easy for us to focus on the negatives, but let’s not overlook that overall, our organisations are the main trusted institutions for most of us. With the rise of AI, enabling more people to share content and the continued risk of fake news on digital channels, people are still looking to their employers to reassure them.

Remaining aware of what’s happening externally and the potential concerns and worries of colleagues creates an opportunity for us to help. By providing consistency, certainty and clarity within leadership communication, we can continue increasing employees’ trust levels in their organisations.

Screenshot from the Edelman Trust Barometer 2024 showing charts on the Trust Index
What are your takeaways?

I’d like to hear what stood out for you from the 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer. Is there anything you’ll do differently because of the report? Perhaps you might have identified a particular aspect of your internal communication you’ll now seek insights on.

Share in the comments below or email us at hello@allthingsic.com.

Post author: Dan Holden
First published on the All Things IC blog 17 January 2024

An infographic that outlines five ways to learn about internal communication with All Things IC including: Over 1800 free blog articles, 50 free podcast episodes, globally timed 90-minute Masterclasses, Self-study with Online Masterclasses and four All Things IC Live sessions. A short paragraph from the All Things IC website is underneath each heading.

Global opportunities to learn about internal communication in 90-minutes

Our 90-minute Masterclasses blend theory and real-life examples and are delivered at times that suit comms friends from around the globe.

Learn in small peer groups, supported by an expert All Things IC Consultant. We host each 90-minute Masterclass on Microsoft Teams and you can save your place for only £199 +VAT.

Upcoming sessions include:

We can also create bespoke 90-minute Masterclasses to help you and your team. Send us a message or email hello@allthingsic.com and we’ll arrange a free call to see how we can support you.

Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How can we help?

All Things IC helps practitioners around the globe increase their knowledge of internal communication.

There’s a variety of ways we can support you including trainingconsultancy and mentoring to boost your skills and confidence.

Or visit the shop to see everything we offer.

Who has hired All Things IC?

Clients say working with All Things IC leaves them feeling inspired, motivated, full of ideas and ready to turn plans into action.

We’re proud to have been invited to work with, and advise, some of the world’s leading brands.

Get in touch...

Would you like to work with All Things IC? Do get in touch below. Please note we only accept guest post ideas from in-house IC pros who have read the blogging guidelines.

Asking for advertising, back links or pitching services? We do not offer these and will not reply. Thank you.